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Roles & Duties of Employers & Employees

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Employers and employees work together on a daily basis and have very different roles and duties. These primary roles and duties have remained fairly static over time despite changes in technology that have made business more global and efficient. They define what workers are supposed to do on a daily basis without delving into specific job descriptions and thus establish a foundation for the kind of relationship employers and employees should expect.

Skill and Care

It is the duty of employees to perform their work with care. This means that they respect the employer's property and follow protocols. It also means that the employees use whatever skills they have (or acquire new ones) to complete a task. Lastly, employees should not rush through their work and should check whatever they do for quality. This ensures that the employee will finish the work correctly the first time, saving the employer time and money.


In the United States, most employers and employees operate under what is known as a master-servant relationship. In master-servant relationships, masters (employers) oversee the work of servants (employees) who work with or without compensation. As explained by, the master-servant relationship is determined by how much authority an employer exercises over an employee. In these relationships (which exclude contractors), employees recognize the power that the employer has and follow the employer's instructions. However, master-servant law also protects employees from unjustified treatment from an employer. For example, an employer can't fire an employee for filing a grievance or seeking worker's compensation.


Employers want employees to be loyal. For example, employees should come to work on time, keep company "secrets" private and keep their work time undivided between the primary employer and other potential employers. This lets employers know that they'll have a certain, dependable amount of human resources available to get the job done and that competitors won't undermine the success of the business.

Health and Safety

To prevent employers from abusing the authority they have in a master-servant relationship, legislation requires that employers provide employees with a safe work environment that is free from health hazards. Employers therefore must comply with the workplace standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) of the United States Department of Labor. If they violate these regulations, employers face fines or mandatory cessation of operations until the problems are fixed.

Payment and Benefits

Employers have to pay the funds and benefits they promised to the employer as indicated in the employee-employer contract. From the legal standpoint, this is because a work contract is an exchange of service for compensation. If an employer doesn't compensate the employee, then the employer has violated the work contract. From the social standpoint, this is because the employee depends on his benefits and wages to survive.

Fair Hiring, Training, and Complaint Hearings

Employers must hire fairly, meaning that they can't deny someone a job simply because they are of a particular race, religion, origin or gender. They have to review all resumes and conduct all interviews under the same criteria and methods. Employers have to make the same training available to everyone (if offered) so that everyone has a fair chance to advance or improve on the job. If employees bring complaints to their employers, the employers should look at every complaint rather than just the complaints from employees the employers prefer.


As shown by Clyde & Company and, a duty both employers and employees have is to treat each other with what is known in law as mutual trust and confidence--i.e., they should respect each other. Employers and employees can demonstrate mutual trust and confidence by communicating well, hearing each other out even when opinions differ. They also can give praise wherever it is warranted and express appreciation for work done.


Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website,, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.